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VenEconomy: Chávez’s “socialism”
is extinguishing Venezuela

 

Like the emperor in the fairy tale, the Chávez administration now stands naked before the world and is finding it increasingly difficult to cover up the disaster it has created with its ill-named 21st Century Socialism.

In the first 12 days of 2010, it has had to resort to a drastic devaluation of the currency, announced on Friday, January 8, despite its reluctance to take this step for more than four years. And now, on Tuesday, January 12, it has had to make the electricity debacle official with the joint announcement by the Ministry for Electrical Energy and the affiliates of the state-owned National Electricity Corporation of a “special electricity rationing plan that will cover the entire country and will involve suspensions of the service for a maximum of four hours” in each region.

The arguments offered by the electricity authorities are incredible, to say the least, in a country that has recently enjoyed a prolonged period of high oil prices. The Minister for Electrical Energy claims that the announced blackout to which they will subject all regions of Venezuela at discretion seeks to “generate a process of saving and rationing that will make it possible to keep the country operating,” as failure to do so would result in the water in Guri falling to levels that could put the country in a very serious situation at the end of February. He also explained, quite shamelessly, that they are “trying to avoid” Guri Reservoir, on which 70% of the country’s electricity generation depends, falling to critical levels and generating a “countrywide blackout.”

What is even more serious –and important- is not merely that this critical situation in the supply of electricity is the result of more than ten years of lack of investment and planning and of having totally abandoned a coherent, sustained maintenance program, but the fact that the government persists in making last-ditch efforts, refusing to rectify the pernicious way in which it has been handling the country.

The Chávez administration is responsible for not having made, during these two long terms during which it has been controlling the entire state apparatus, the necessary investments to develop the country’s electricity generation, transmission, and distribution capacity, or at least to maintain it at 1999 levels.

On that issue, it is worth mentioning statements given this Monday to El Nacional by José Manuel Aller, a professor at Simón Bolívar University with PhD in electrical engineering, when he maintains that “lack of investment in the national energy system over the past ten years amounts to approximately $20 billion and some 20,000 megawatts.” 

Worse still is the fact that, instead of assuming its responsibility in the debacle into which it has plunged the sector, the government insists on passing the buck and saying that the situation is due to the atmospheric phenomenon, El Niño, or to the population’s irresponsible consumption of electricity, ridiculous arguments that hold no water when one sees just one photo of the broken down turbines at Guri or at Planta Centro Power Station or reads the reports warning of the gravity of the situation that different specialists have been submitting for years. Today, the people of Venezuela are paying the price by being condemned to darkness and to a deteriorating standard of living.

The fact of the matter is –now revealed in all its glory and impossible to hide- that the project that Chávez has wanted to implement by force and against the wishes of the vast majority of Venezuelans has only brought failure after failure in all areas of development that are vital for the population.


 

VenEconomy has been a Venezuela's leading specialized publisher on financial, political and economic data since 1982. VenEconomy's Points of View on the issues of the day, as seen by VenEconomy during the last week. Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views.

Editor's Note: This commentary was originally published by VeneEconomy on 01/12/2010. Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers .

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Petroleumworld News 01/13/2010

 

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